How to Choose the Right Shipping Container

Initially pioneered for the standardisation of global shipping, shipping containers now exist with so many creative uses and purposes. Over 65 years after creating the shipping container, its uses are continuously being discovered, including great storage units, on-site offices for construction sites, homes and more.

However, because they have so many uses, there are many different types available. Whether you are purchasing or hiring a shipping container, it is a big and important decision to make. With shipping containers currently being in a state of worldwide shortage, it makes it even more important to choose the right one when it is available.

Container Specifications

Before you begin to analyse the many considerations and personal elements you require for your shipping container, we need to look at the variety of options on the market.


Classified as ‘standardised’ for a reason, shipping containers come in three distinct sizes.

The 20ft (6m) and 40ft (12m) containers are the most popular. However, smaller 10ft (3m) options are also available. You can also get custom shipping containers, ranging anywhere between 5ft and 40ft when manufactured by Tiger Containers.


In addition to sizes, there are several variations of the shipping container, each suited for different uses.

General-purpose containers

Understandably, this is the most common type of cargo container used worldwide. While it is typically used for transporting and storing dry cargo, often for global trade, its basic form makes it extremely versatile.

Dangerous goods container

Simply, dangerous goods include petrochemicals, paint thinners, flammable liquids, toxic substances, explosives, gas and chemicals that require particular storage to maintain their quality and integrity. These containers are specifically designed to handle this type of cargo safely.

Refrigeration containers

Also known as reefers, these containers are used for transporting any goods that need a stabilised temperature. As they essentially act as a portable cool room, they can also be used as walk-in fridges or freezers at functions, events or temporary locations.

Flat rack containers

As the name suggests, these are flat racks with collapsible walls. Often used for transporting out-of-gauge cargo, they are easy to move and store and can be compared to a piece of flat-pack furniture.

Open top containers

Closely resembling general purpose containers, the difference here is that this container has a removable top or wall. They are generally used for transporting goods that require ventilation or are oversized, hosting an open-top covered by a strong rubber tarp rather than a metal roof. The flexibility of the container allows for easier loading and larger capacity.

High cuber containers

These containers are essentially identical to general-purpose containers right down to everything except height. These containers are built with the same standardised width and length but with added height for more storage opportunities.

High cuber containers

Buy or Hire?

Hiring a shipping container is a great idea for short or temporary uses, where you don’t need to make any modifications, such as semi-permanent storage short term accommodation.

If they are unsure of the type of container they want to buy, people often hire containers to identify first-hand whether the container type can perform as required. If you only want to hire a container but require more than the standard container can provide, there are options to hire already modified containers.

Contrarily, if you are looking to use a shipping container regularly and ongoing, it would make sense that you consider purchasing your own. The cost for value is rather reasonable, especially considering you can upsell the container when you no longer need it. Not to mention, they are in extremely high demand right now.

Some additional considerations include:

● Hiring a container means you have to give it back the way you received it and cannot make any permanent customisations.
● When you purchase a shipping container, you can modify it any way you choose to your exact specifications.
● If your project does not have a limited timeline, it is more ideal to purchase the container, as the cost of renting for an extended period could exceed that of owning it.
● When hiring a shipping container, you have to take extra care as it isn’t your property, and you will have to pay to fix it if it gets damaged.

New or used?

New shipping containers are squeaky clean, undamaged and have no risk of cross-contamination from previous cargo. WIth zero wear and tear of earlier uses, you are unlimited in using and modifying the container.

Purchasing a used container when shipping goods overseas can be risky, as it cannot be easily determined whether it meets all the necessary legislation requirements. If you buy the container new, you won’t have to worry about any unseen contaminant being present.

Used shipping containers can also be a suitable and sustainable option depending on their use. However, it is essential to remember that its condition and history will be a major consideration influencing your ability to use and modify it.

While some containers have experienced a lot of wear and tear throughout their previous use, others may still be in tip-top condition. To make purchasing a used container easier and more transparent, quality grades are established to help you
determine the state of the container. These grades span from A grade (the best condition) to C grade (the poorest condition).



Now that the container specifications are out of the way, you need to consider your individual situation to begin considering what container is most suitable for you.

What are you using the container for?

While the most common uses are for transportation or storage of goods, depending on what you are transporting and storing will influence the container type you require and whether you buy or hire.

Some common uses of shipping containers include:

● Transporting cargo
● Temporary of permanent storage
● Refrigerated storage
● Relocatable offices
● Ablution units
● Storage of dangerous or flammable goods
● Storing archived or sensitive documents
● Garden sheds
● Storing perishable goods
● Workshops

As mentioned, the shipping container is so versatile that if you’re even a little bit creative, you will be able to come up with countless ways to use it.

Once you know what you’re using it for, you should also question whether or not your use is permanent. If you don’t need it for the long term, it could be a better idea to hire, or if you need to make modifications, it could be much more ideal to buy.

Ultimately, consider what will allow you to make the most of your container and intentions and what container will allow you to make your required modifications.

What is your budget?

While it’s great to dream big, at the end of the day, you need to return to your budget and what you have to work with when choosing the right container option for you. Depending on their condition, shipping containers can cost anywhere between $2,900 to $7,500.

You need to consider how much you are willing to spend, whether you will be making any additional and costly modifications, how much you are willing to compromise on quality over low cost.

If money isn’t a barrier for you, you can choose any shipping container you desire. However, you need to narrow down your priorities if there are budget constraints. For example, if you absolutely need to make modifications for a permanent structure but are on a budget, it could be best to buy a used container. Or, if functionality is essential, but you have a limited budget, consider hiring the container for a short time.

Space restrictions

Lastly, what size container will you need? Ultimately this will depend on any space restrictions you have regarding the cargo and the place you will be keeping the container.

If you have oversized cargo, open-top, high cube, or 40ft containers could be your best option. However, if you are only completing a small task on a budget, a 10ft container could be more suitable and doesn’t take up much space.

The 20ft shipping container is the most popular choice as it is so versatile. It fits the typical requirements for use and is generally more cost-effective than trying to transport anything larger.

Choosing Your Container

Now that we have laid out the facts, considerations, and options in detail, it is up to you to weigh up your options and prioritise what you want from your shipping container.

However, you’re not left high and dry. The professionals at Tiger Containers live and breathe the all-reliable metal boxes we know as shipping containers and are dedicated to helping you find the best container solution for you.

Contact the team today for more information and get started on your next project and container purchase.